Majority of the Burundian middle class families prefer sending their children to Rwanda, Uganda or Kenya for further studies in pursuing their degrees or masters in different fields.
Since the pandemic hit the East African community early this year, most of the member states have imposed measures to curb the spread of Coronavirus including lockdowns and suspension of studies until further notice.
Uganda is among the countries in East Africa that imposed a lockdown and suspension of all school activities as a measure to control the spread of the virus, currently Uganda has more than one thousand cases of COVID-19 with at least 938 are said to have recovered from the virus.
As countries are fighting against the spread of the pandemic, many have been affected by the measures imposed including foreign students studying in the varsities of Uganda.
Laurette Nishimwe a Burundian national and a student at Kampala University since February 2019 said that it was unsustainable for her during the lockdown and they had to mobilize with fellow Burundians on the way back to Burundi.
“It was not easy to survive during the lockdown because life became expensive we had to pay rent and the government was not clear on when school will be reopened,” she said.
Laurette said that she had to pay rent without studying so they had to resort to the Burundian embassy in Uganda to facilitate their exit from Uganda to Burundi, “the embassy really facilitated for our exit because we were getting desperate and we needed that permit to cross the border.”
As Burundian students mobilized for the exit from Uganda many were not financially well as their guardians and parents couldn’t remit money for their upkeep during their stay in Uganda.
Through the help of the Burundian embassy in Uganda more than 90 Burundian students successfully managed to leave Uganda for Burundi via Tanzania to Kobero-Kabanga border.
Last Thursday July 9th, 2020, more than 90 Burundian students arrived at Kobero border despite the cumbersome journey they had to endure from Uganda, “we were over charged for our transportation as we doubled the normal transport fee,” said Laurette.
“As of January we used to pay 110,000 Ugandan shillings but we paid 200,000 Ugandan shillings instead.”
“The journey wasn’t as expected because the car broke down and also getting through the border was a challenge but at last we are back home,” Lorette Nishimwe told Burundi Times.
On their arrival at the border the students were escorted by the Burundian authority to undergo the mandatory COVID-19 screening, “personally I wasn’t feeling comfortable at the hotel we are in because it was designed for 40 people but we are more than 90,” one of the Burundian students from Uganda told Burundi Times.
Despite the struggle, cumbersome journey the students are already with their families but will have to self-quarantine for 14 days as requested by the Burundian authority as part of the precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus.